August 27 2016

Crazy Cajun Eurasian Doves

Back in the late 1970s and early 1980s, hunting white-winged doves in Nuevo Leon, Mexico, with my father-in-law provided us with some the best wing-shooting opportunities available anywhere in the world.

Birds were in the air by the thousands and each of us could keep four bird boys retrieving birds at a break-neck pace during our 8-10 weekend hunts each year.

We always stopped at the same family home – a one-room shack just off the dirt road leading to our shooting area – to pick up the bird boys. At the end of the day, we dropped them off full of ice-cold water, candy and snacks and a few dollar bills that was more money than their father had made working all day in the fields.

On one trip, my father-in-late took the family elder aside and had a little chat with him out of my earshot. I did see a $20 bill exchange hands, but had no idea what had transpired.

After we had completed our next hunt and were dropping off the bird boys, my father-in-law explained that he had paid the elder $20 to purchase a young goat and have his wife prepare a nice after-hunt meal for us.

We sat outside the house in the shade and the first plate she brought to us was about half a rack of grilled ribs – maybe four or five tiny ribs offering a scant mouthful of meat. I could handle that with no problem.

The ribs were followed by a plate of machitos, which is the chopped heart, kidneys and liver of the young goat; combined with onions, peppers and cilantro all wrapped in goat’s intestines and grilled over mesquite coals.  That seemed a little extreme for this country boy.

“It would be insulting to the family if you didn’t try it,” my father-in-law whispered.

I did manage to swallow a few bites – not anything I would want to eat on a regular basis, but not as bad as I imagined – just to be polite. I also noticed my father-in-law, who unlike me was fluent in Spanish, offered a few words to the family that apparently kept him from having to partake of the machitos.

The next dish, however, was way beyond my tolerance level. The large stew pot they brought to our outside table was proudly placed in front of us and with a beaming smile, the mother lifted the lid.
I looked into the pot and staring back at me was the skinned and boiled goat head, complete with an unblinking set of eyeballs.

“I don’t care if I start an international incident, I am not eating goat head stew,’’ I whispered to my father-in-law, adding: “By the way, what happened to all the good meaty parts of that goat?”

That fine old Southern gentleman just smiled and explained: “The family ate the rest of the goat.
They prepared these dishes just for you – they are considered delicacies!”

To his credit, he was able to convince the family that I was humbled by being served the “delicacies” and I did not have to savor a bowl of goat head stew to show my appreciation for their effort.

For those camp cooks who want to serve up their own delicacy using a limit of doves, the following recipe is different, yet delicious, and not as startling to look at as goat head stew. While it calls for Eurasian Collared dove breasts, either mourning doves or white-winged doves are a good substitute.

Crazy Cajun Eurasian Doves
  • 15 Eurasian dove breasts, deboned
  • Chef Ralph’s Super Seasoning
  • 1/2 cup seasoned flour
  • 1/2 cup olive oil or bacon grease
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 1/2 cup chopped bell pepper
  • 1 can (14.5 ounces) petite diced tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • dash Louisiana hot sauce, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 green onions, including tops, chopped
  • cooked white rice
Rinse deboned dove breasts in cold water and pat dry with paper towels. Flatten breasts with a mallet and season with Chef Ralph’s on both sides. Dredge flattened breasts in seasoned flour (reserve flour). Heat oil or grease in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Brown floured breasts on both sides and set aside on a warm plate. Reduce heat to medium low and add reserved flour to skillet. Simmer, stirring often, for about five minutes, until roux (flour and oil mixture) is light brown. Add onion, celery and bell pepper, stir well and simmer for just a couple minutes until onion is cooked. Stir in diced tomatoes and juice, tomato paste, broth, Worcestershire sauce and hot sauce. Return browned breasts to skillet, making sure pieces are submerged in the sauce. Cover skillet and simmer about 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until breast meat is tender. Spoon over cooked white rice, sprinkling with chopped green onions just before serving.